Marcella David on Columbia: “There is nothing that would keep me from coming”

By Kaci Watt, Staff Reporter

Halie Parkinson

Marcella David will be the new senior vice president and provost starting June 3, according to a March 13 email from President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim.

The college has been searching for a provost since Summer 2018, after former provost Stan Wearden announced he would be stepping down in June 2019.

David is currently the Betty T. Ferguson visiting professor of law at Florida State University and was the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.

“I’ve been aware of Columbia College for a long time,” David said. “I really am looking forward to being immersed in the Columbia College environment, getting to know the staff, the faculty, the students and learning more about Columbia from the insider’s perspective.”

With experience in academic administration at the collegiate level, David said she has learned a lot about how the different pieces of higher education fit within each other and work together.

David graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1989.

“[I am] a problem solver. That’s what lawyers do,” David said. “I have that experience in solving problems, identifying problems, barriers and opportunities and working to either eliminate the problems or … move towards that opportunity in a positive way.”

Student Government Association President and junior cinema art and science major Jazmin Bryant was a part of the committee that helped select the provost. Bryant said she felt David stood out because she specifically wanted to be at Columbia.

“It will be important for her to listen because she is coming into Columbia at such a pivotal moment,” Bryant said. “We have a lot of merging departments, a student center in the works [and] a lot of changes being made. It is going to be key for her to be able to take initiative but also listen.”

David will be a professor in the Business and Entrepreneurship Department.

“It will be interesting as she continues as provost,” Bryant said. “I wonder if she’ll be able to handle the workload of both. It seems like a lot to me, but Marcella is very well-rounded. I know she is completely capable.”

However, David said she will not begin teaching courses until she is acclimated with her role as provost.

“I love interacting with students,” David said. “I am looking forward to teaching when it can reasonably be incorporated into the time I will need to accomplish my administrative responsibilities.”

Faculty Senate President and Associate Professor in the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department Sean Andrews was also a part of the committee that helped make the decision. He said he was excited for a new provost to be named because there was a time when the hiring of a new provost was “up in the air.”

“She comes from a different background than previous provosts. [It’ll] be a different perspective. Any time there’s a leadership change it’s kind of a wild card, [but] I’m hopeful that when she gets here we’ll be able to work well together with the faculty,” Andrews said.

Andrews added he thinks it will be beneficial for her to have a teaching position as well.

“It’s really important that the leadership still have contact with the students and still have contact with everyday life of the college,” Andrews said.

During a Nov. 13 Let’s Chat event, Kim said he was leaning toward hiring a woman as provost to increase diversity on campus and bring a different understanding to the community, as reported Nov. 17, 2018, by The Chronicle.

David said she does not think she brings a unique experience to the role because she is a woman, but rather because she is uniquely herself.

Bryant added she was excited to see a woman take over the role.

“At this time specifically in the world, it is important that women have a seat at the table. Women are very influential, poised and professional individuals. We can command a space differently than a man can,” Bryant said.

As a whole, David said it is hard to pick one thing she wants the Columbia community to know about her but that she is excited about the role.

“I’m going to try and do my very best for Columbia College because I want to help do my part to help [the] college achieve all of its strategic goals, its vision and its mission. There is nothing that would keep me from coming and enjoying this opportunity and doing the best I can.”